Susan Scurlock, CEO of Primary Engineer, was honoured by the University for her work in the world of primary education, inspiring a generation of teachers, pupils and practising engineers to make better links with the engineers of tomorrow.
At the same ceremony her daughter, Jennifer, also received her MSc degree in Biomedical Engineering.
Primary Engineer has expanded since it was founded by Susan in 2005, through the development of Secondary Engineer, Early Years Engineer, the Institution of Primary Engineers and the Institution of Secondary Engineers. In Scotland, the now widely-used Scottish Engineering Special Leaders Award sees more than 6000 primary pupils a year answer the question of what they would do if they were an engineer in Scotland.
A team of fifth year Mechanical Engineering students from Strathclyde is to make a product designed in one of the winning entries to be on public display at the University’s Barony Hall, as part of a Special Leaders Award event in June 2016.
Susan, of Great Harwood, Lancashire, said: “It was a very pleasant surprise to receive the letter offering me an honorary degree from Strathclyde, particularly as it will be at the same time as Jennifer graduates.
“Primary Engineer has grown exponentially since 2005; children now have the chance to become members of their own engineering institution. Many local authorities across Scotland have engaged their schools; in East Ayrshire, for example, we will work over three years with every early education centre, primary and secondary schools on an ambitious programme of engineering education. In England, the programmes are equally popular across large regional areas.
“Because Primary Engineer is taught in the classroom and is linked to industry through an engineer, it provides children with a context for maths and science. It answers the question ‘why are we learning this?’!”
Jennifer said: “My mum has always said that engineering was the most interesting career but I choose Molecular Cell Biology as a first degree. Looking around for a master’s course, I chose Strathclyde because it had the highest standard of engineering course for biologists – which was perfect.
“I think, and my mum agrees with me, that there’s quite a sense of ‘family’ about Strathclyde and this is one of the things you realise very quickly. If you ask for help, you will get it and there will always be someone to point you in the right direction.”
Professor David Nash, Vice-Dean (Knowledge Exchange) of Strathclyde’s Faculty of Engineering presented Susan with her honorary degree. He said: “Susan feels a huge responsibility to ensure that what is taken into schools under the Primary Engineer banner, offered to children, teachers and engineers, is going to make a difference to them. Hearing teachers talking about the impact on individual children inspires her to do more.”